Message by Mr. Anders Pedersen, UN Resident Coordinator, during the 2012 World AIDS Day commemorations

Dec 1, 2012

It is my true honour to participate on behalf of the United Nations and the UN Secretary General in this World AIDS Day Commemoration at this critical time of the AIDS response in Botswana. We know Botswana has made great achievements in responding to AIDS, by showing to the world one of the best ART and preventing Mother to Child Transmission programmes, with high coverage and high quality, thanks to the government leadership and good close collaboration with partners.

However, we still have one of the highest adults HIV prevalence rates in the world and one out of three pregnant women is infected with the virus. There are still challenges in advancing the prevention agenda to achieve the targets set in the National Operational Plan for AIDS. We have no room for complacency, but to work even harder to keep providing good services to all those who are in need. Let us never forget, prevention is the key for a long term sustainable response to AIDS. I am inspired by your commitment and happy to see Botswana leading the way in securing country ownership on AIDS programme and moving towards  sustainable financing. Together, I am confident we will reach  AIDS free-generation!

With this introduction, allow me to read the message from the UN Secretary General on World AIDS day, and I quote:

The Millennium Development Goal for HIV/AIDS is clear: to halt and begin to reverse the epidemic by 2015. Thanks to the determined efforts of governments and civil society, success is in sight.

The UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report for 2012 reveals significant progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in the past two years. The number of people accessing life-saving treatment rose by 60 per cent and new infections have fallen by half in 25 countries – 13 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS-related deaths have dropped by a quarter since 2005.

Half the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among new-born babies. I urge Member States to intensify their efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission, and to work to ensure all HIV-positive mothers can survive and thrive.

I also urge stronger efforts to eliminate the stigma and discrimination that increase risk for vulnerable populations. The Report of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law: “Risks, Rights and Health” emphasizes how outmoded laws, misguided judiciary systems and punitive policing practices – based not on science but on fear and prejudice – fuel the epidemic. We must make information, testing and treatment available to all, so every man, woman and child can enjoy their fundamental right to the medical care and essential services that will end this devastating epidemic.

Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2015 are achievable. On this World AIDS Day, let us commit to build on and amplify the encouraging successes of recent years to consign HIV/AIDS to the pages of history. Thank you.

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